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Man United Show Interest In Portuguese Midfield Sensation: Should Ten Hag Splash The Cash?

Manchester United are reportedly tracking Benfica midfielder Joao Neves.

The Red Devils have been charmed by Benfica’s teenage prodigy during their recent scouting trips to watch his teammate Antonio Silva and Sporting CP defender Goncalo Inacio, who are high on their shortlist of options at centre-back. Erik ten Hag is keen on bringing in a centre-half to cover for the crocked Lisandro Martinez but also wants to add to his midfield department in January.

According to The Sun, Manchester United have sent scouts to watch Benfica’s Joao Neves this season. They were in attendance last week as Benfica played Estoril with Neves as their prime focus.

Neves, 19, first broke into Benfica’s senior team last season and played 17 games on their way to Primeira Liga title triumph. The teenager has continued his fine form into the new campaign and has been rewarded with a maiden call-up to the Portugal senior team for their Euro 2024 qualifiers this month.

The central midfielder recently signed a new deal with Benfica which runs through to 2028 and carries a £103 million buyout clause. But the hefty release clause hasn’t stopped Ten Hag from pursuing Neves as United chiefs remain set to back him in the January transfer window, the report adds.

Joao Neves to Manchester United—Good option for Ten Hag?

Man United splashed on Mason Mount, Andre Onana and Rasmus Hojlund in the summer transfer window, whilst adding Sofyan Amrabat and Sergio Reguilon on loan from Fiorentina and Tottenham respectively. However, they have endured a poor start to the season and currently sit 10th in the Premier League table.

Yet, the club are fully backing Ten Hag to turn their fortunes around after the international break. The Dutchman is expected to be given funds in January as well to try and strengthen his squad further, and in addition to a central defender, he may want a midfielder following the struggles of Casemiro and Christian Eriksen, while loanee Amrabat has been forced to play at left-back for much of his time here owing to injuries.

With Casemiro certainly not meeting his high standards so far this term and Eriksen’s lack of physicality and stamina providing a major concern for Man United given that they want to play a high-octane, counter-pressing football, there may be room for a coveted young talent who would be able to improve their midfield, and Joao Neves fits the bill.

After becoming a league champion with Benfica last season, it seems Neves’ career trajectory is only going upwards. The 19-year-old has played 11 times this season, mostly as a defensive midfielder, though he is still showing signs of adaptation to various roles in the middle of the park. The Portuguese is an excellent passer from the deep, and his ability to break up opposition attacks and regain possession for his side quickly will certainly help the Red Devils shore up defensively.

Joao Neves is a prodigious young talent with a bright future ahead of him and could be viewed as Casemiro’s potential long-term successor by the 20-time English champions’ hierarchy. However, he has a hefty £103 million buyout clause attached to him and Benfica categorically want to keep him in January.

So, it remains to be seen whether Man United want to break the bank and pay his release clause in order to sign Neves in the summer of 2024.

Rohan Sengupta

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